Nightwish - Los Angeles - January 21st, 2012 [Imaginaerum World Tour Kick Off Show]

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Gen 26 2012, 2:43

Artist: Nightwish
Supporting: Amorphis & Dommin
Date: January 21st, 2012
Location: Los Angeles
Venue: Gibson Amphitheatre
Tour: Imaginaerum World Tour


Remarks:
Once I had a dream... and this is it...

In the 10 years that I've been listening to Nightwish, I've been fortunate enough to watch their rise from tiny band hailing from snowy Kitee, Finland, to a world wide multi-million album selling artist. So if someone had told me back when Wishmaster came out that this band from the other side of the world would be kicking off a huge world tour with a one of a kind show in Los Angeles, I never would have believed it. Although it wasn't the same caliber as the large shows they are accustomed to doing in Europe, the pyros, fireworks, and energy made it the biggest show they've done in the US. More importantly, once they hit the stage, they did not disappoint for a single second.

The Gibson Amphitheatre is an amazing venue with an approximate 6000 capacity that filled right up. Two large screens mirrored the action happening on the spacious stage. The music was loud, as is expected for a concert, but the acoustics were spot on and it sounded great with no overpowering bass; everything was audible very clearly.

Opening this evening was local LA rockers, Dommin. Bordering on the darker, heavier edge of rock and metal, their music carried a feeling of pensiveness and brooding until they exploded with energy during choruses. You could see that this was a big night for the band because they had great big smiles on their faces as they rocked out. Heavy riffs with forceful drum beats kept the audience's hearts pounding and hands clapping. Their enthusiasm was quite infectious and spread throughout the crowd, warming us up and leaving the impression that this would not be any ordinary show.

Next up were fellow Finnish metalheads, Amorphis. These six guys definitely cranked up the loudness factor with even heavier riffs. Their style drew from several different types of metal, including some death metal, gothic metal, hints of progressive metal, and straight up heavy metal. The first thing you can't help but notice about Amorphis is the lead singer's insanely long dreads and unique microphone. I'm not sure why it has three prongs to hold it from, but he definitely made use of it when he went into death grunt mode! They definitely were interesting to listen to, it's kinda hard to describe their sound when it incorporates so much, but perhaps that's why it was great to listen on.

This was the fourth time I've seen Nightwish live, but it's always a blast to see them. They always have so much energy on stage and genuinely look like they're having the time of their life. Not only that, but they manage to play everything spot on with such passion, always looking to make the songs they perform day in and day out unique to each performance. Anette seemed a lot more comfortable on stage compared to the Dark Passion Play tour. That comfort coupled with the fact that Tuomas is now writing songs with her voice in mind allowed her to sing and act much more naturally on stage. While she's singing, she's moving across the stage gracefully and flowing with the music; when she's not, she's dancing around and having fun. Emppu is just as energetic as ever, running back and forth on stage, pumping up the crowd, all while shredding away. Jukka, although trapped behind his drumset, was lifted a lot higher on the riser and more visible. With what little movement he could manage, he brought his own style of energy and vigor while drumming by rocking out and not being a stiff drum machine. Marco is always a great performer on stage; epic rock poses, amazing voice, and funny quips in between songs. Tuomas was at the absolute top of his game tonight. It seemed like he was playing a lot more than expected, not satisfied with letting the orchestral backtrack just run its course. With our positioning, we could really see him make use of all three keyboards; we even got some keyboard solos! As a band, they were terrific. The members interacted with each other as well as the audience. They show flowed smoothly, perhaps all their jitters were calmed by doing their "secret" show two nights before. Each of the songs were performed flawlessly, the new material translating very well to live performances, while the older songs were spiced up a little bit to keep things fresh. Pyros blasts were used to accentuate several of the songs; we were a few rows behind the pit and we really could feel the heat! Also in attendance was Troy Donockley who accompanied them for several songs with his uillean pipes, which really gave those songs an extra oomph. So when the house lights dropped and the shadowy figures of Tuomas and Troy appeared, everyone got up on their feet and the whole amphitheatre was full of cheers and clapping. It was a bit of surprise not to hear any intro music playing over the speakers, but that was because they decided to play their own intro!

Nightwish's Setlist:
Finlandia (This symphonic piece by Jean Sibelius is a source of national pride for Finland and was reworked to give it the symphonic metal twist that only Nightwish could do. Tuomas and Troy started it out with just the keyboards and uillean pipes. Not long after, Jukka joined in on drums and Marco added a very grooving bass line. Finally, Emppu layered himself in with the guitar while the entire stage stayed bathed in blue; only leaving ghostly figures visible to the crowd. It wasn't long until the band brought the hymn to a grand finale.)
Storytime (It only took a second for them to transition into Storytime, but when those first keyboard notes started playing, the entire amphitheater filled up with screams and energy. Although the stage was still dark, giant pyro blasts lit it up during those first two blasts of sound in the intro. Once really big blast went off once the whole band started playing and we were finally face to face with the band. Anette sounded amazing as expected, and it took me a few minutes to notice she appeared to be wearing an all black, evil version of the Snow White dress.What a perfect song to start with, so much energy and excitement to match the uplifting, smile inducing song!)

Wish I Had an Angel (Anette didn't waste any time getting us to 'hep hep!' It was our first chance to hear Marco's badass metal voice, which was as great as ever! Also, I'm pretty sure it takes Emppu two seconds flat to get from one side of the stage to the other.)
Amaranth (With this one, you could really tell how much she has improved since the last tour. No over-singing, everything nice and clean, and still with those powerful high notes at the end. They did mix this one up a little which was very cool. They did the extended grinding riff in the middle, which usually are full of 'hep hep's' from Anette but were absent here. Instead, Jukka threw in a disco beat and we got to watch Anette do a cute little dance on stage! After the last chorus, Anette and Tuomas disappear and Marco yells at us to "Get ready to sing!" They brought back the grinding riff and Marco has us sing back his "Whoaaaaah, whoaaaah"s. Very fun!)
Scaretale (So great that they decided to play this one live! Tuomas really went to town playing the strings part here, and fire made the intro so much more dramatic! I know I keep talking about Anette's voice, but she was great on this song on the album and she was damn fantastic singing this one live. Never in my life have I been so excited to hear the lyrics "SQUEEEEELING PIGS!" The midsection break where Marco takes over was fun too, with lots of "who ha"s to go around. Both of their singing really made this song a huge success, especially (or despite) both of them singing differently from the way they usually do.)
The Siren (Although Tarja really does the song justice as a siren, Anette really held her own, delivering the vocalizations in her own way. It's not better or worse, it's just different. Tuomas' keyboard solo was quite exciting. It started with the regular Siren solo, but then he incorporated the first bars of Arabesque followed by the main melody of Tutankhamen.)
Slow, Love Slow (A nice tune to calm down with. They brought out stools for everyone and a 30's feathery hat for Anette. The piano playing by Tuomas was quite exceptional and he really drove the song. Not to be one to forgotten, Emppu shifted from the shadows to the spotlight to deliver a mellow but impressive guitar solo that fit the song quite well.)
I Want My Tears Back (The stage went black after the previous song and only the sounds of a ticking clock was left. Then, out of the darkness, "I want my tears back!" followed by fire! Troy had made his way back on stage and went right to work playing that super catchy melody on his pipes. Once again, Anette was beautiful, giving the verses that sweet, lofty touch that makes it sound magical. Then like a switch, she flips it off for the chorus and still sounds great. When Marco's turn to start singing came, I could hear tons of people joining in. Then those last two lines, it felt like everyone joined in screaming it! The crowd definitely was into this song as the energy was flowing throughout. The second time through the chorus, Troy joined in for backing vocals which allowed Anette to vocalize beneath their singing, which sounded great. Then, during the instrumental section, Anette showed off her tambourine skills. But the cool part was it was cool to see Tuomas, Troy, and Emppu both take turns playing the melody and then also playing in unison.)

The Crow, the Owl and the Dove (Another relatively mellow song which seems to be rather underrated. Troy got a moment in the spotlight here, singing during the bridge section, sneaking a quite flute trill as well. Anette added some vocalization for the second time Troy sang which sounded great.)
The Islander (With the sounds of crashing waves around us, it was clear The Islander was next. As Marco sits down, he asks everyone to pull out cell phones, cameras, lighters, anything that gives off light, and to raise it up high. The lights went down and when you looked out, you could see a sea of bright lights all throughout the amphitheater. Way fucking cool. Then he proceeds to count off into the song, "1.... 2... 1, 2, 3, 6, 6, 6!" Jukka stepped down onto the stage and played some sort of MIDI box thing instead of drums. Troy was doing his thing like always, Anette was a lot gentler with backing vocals which was very lovely. Both Marco and Emppu added a little extra flair and mini solos to their guitar playing. Tuomas gracefully handled the piano and strings. As the end approached, they extended it a little, adding more vocalizations, a little jamming, and a nice crisp end. You could really see the smiles break out from the band members during the song. The combination of all the lights from the audience and everyone singing along really made this a magical, stand out moment in the concert.The Islander Panoramic)
Nemo (As Jukka plays a slow, simple beat on his MIDI box to start off the song, everyone starts clapping along. Marco quickly quips, "You can do that, yeah," to much laughter. Right after that, Tuomas plays that instantly recognizable piano intro to Nemo to many cheers. They had rearranged it into an acoustic version and incorporated Troy. He added some flute to the song and together with Marco added harmonized "ahhhhs" to the chorus. The acoustic guitar solo by Emppu was nice and simple. If my memory serves me correct, it sounded like it was greatly largely inspired by the solo in Angels Fall First. I may be biased since I'm a sucker for acoustic versions of songs, but this was a refreshing twist on a beloved Nightwish classic.)

Last of the Wilds (Another fun little jam. Played pretty much straight from the album, but this was really Troy's chance to shine.)
Planet Hell (This song and pyro blasts go hand in hand. Nothing like seeing Jukka drumming the intro all by himself with fire dancing all around him! We got another mashed up keyboard solo here with Tuomas using keyboard melodys from Stargazersand Gethsemane. The timing and flow is kinda contorted so they would fit within the song so it didn't sound great, but they were definitely there.)
Song of Myself (Considering this song is 100% pure Tuomas, it's no surprise he's a huge star in this song. From the moment we see and hear him playing that dramatic intro with the orchestra backing him, you know it's about to get intense. The massive blasts of fire moments later prove us correct. That intense energy continues throughout the first section of the song with lots of running around between the two guys and some loud and fast drumming by Jukka. At one point, Marco starts to sing a verse with Anette, before realizing he doesn't need to be singing that part and he's left with a sheepish look on his face. Moving into the second section had us gradually tone back on the dramatic symphony and furious guitar riffs and focus on Anette's voice rising above the other instruments. As the last bit of vocals ended, the instruments came right back to another rocking section. Then, where the epic choir blasts away, instead we are treated to a nice Marco/Anette harmony. The brief pause after that line has everyone holding their breath, only to be treated to a fiery explosion on stage. Their last recital of the line is followed by complete silence, which was very cool.)
Last Ride of the Day (Anette tells us that it's been great, and it's time to join them for their last ride of the day. Not so subtle intro, but still appreciated. Such a thrilling song to hear and it does well as a final song. Right after Emppu's guitar solo, big blasts of confetti start shooting up into the air over the pit and the first few rows. To close it out, Anette and Marco give us one final high note before disappearing into the darkness.)

Encore:
The Poet and the Pendulum (After a very quick break, the lights are dimmed again and the familiar voice of a young soprano fills the amphitheater, telling us the tale of poet. Excitement filled the air again, culminating in many people screaming along to the chorus. When the child is talking again during the middle section, Tuomas has two red spotlights shining up at him, giving him this evil look. Then we were treated to a really big pyro display leading up to Marco's big screaming evil section. As the song drew to an end, Anette decided to wow us once more by singing even higher than she does on the album.)
Over the Hills and Far Away (Anette takes a moment to thank us all for making this a big night for them. Jukka hopped down to play on his box once more as Troy starts playing his pipes along with Tuomas. It ends up sounding like a fun little Irish jig. Hints of the song were appearing as he played, so it started to make us wonder if they were gonna mix it up one last time. We even got a big "Yee-haw!" from Marco! Eventually Jukka sneaked up to his drums and started pounding away. Once again, Anette sounded great! Marco and Troy backing her up on the chorus also helped. It wasn't just him though, Marco tells us "You can actually sing along, you know," which is what exactly what everyone was doing. Tuomas and Troy ended up dueting during the vocal break followed by one last blazing guitar solo by Emppu. The trio of vocalists gave us a nice three part harmony when the instruments stop playing. Then in an odd twist Marco is left to sing the melody while Anette sings another real high harmony. It lead to another little extended jam before culminating in a big rock ending.)

The last notes are accompanied by big, loud explosions followed by a mini fireworks display. The band members roam the stage, thanking everyone, shaking hands, and hugging each other. Behind them, Imaginaerum is blasting over the speakers but is drowned out by the entire amphitheater screaming their lungs out. Troy joins the band for one big bow at center stage. Without a doubt, this was the single best concert I have been to. The band was definitely at the top of their game, never sounding better, giving 150% and backed by a big stage production. Not only that, but the energy flowing through the entire crowd was unreal. You could feel it through out the whole show, people screaming and clapping all over, everyone singing along and rocking out, and lighting up the amphitheater with energy and lights. I'm absolutely thrilled that I was able to make the journey with my two best friends and witness this historic show of my favorite band that I never would have imagined possible 10 years ago.

Thank you Sami and Tarja for helping forge the path. Thank you Jukka, Emppu, Marco, and Anette for keeping the dream alive. Thank you Tuomas for sharing your gift of music with the world. Thank you Nightwish.

Once I had a dream... and this was it...

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